I watched portions of the Miss America Pageant Saturday night. Yes, that's quite an exciting life I lead. The fun part was trying to find The Learning Channel, or TLC, on my cable system since it's not a channel I usually watch.
Pageant organizers and the network -- in its first year of broadcasting the pageant -- were trying to make the pageant more interactive this year. They did this by creating a 4-week reality series called "Miss America: Reality Check" as they tried to give the pageant a more modern look.
In fact, the last of the 16 finalists, Miss Utah, was voted in through text messaging by fans who watched the reality show.
I caught a bit of the swimsuit competition, then found better things to do for the next hour until returning to the pageant to see who would be Miss America 2008.
Now the last time I saw the pageant, only the final 5 contestants were on stage at the end. They each were a runner-up and got some scholarship money. This time, 8 young women were on stage in the final moments. I thought this was odd, since only 4 runners-up and Miss America would be chosen.
Much to my surprise, the three young women who weren't picked as runners-up weren't eliminated first. Of the final 4 contestants, shown above in an Associated Press photo by Jae C. Hong, three of them weren't getting anything. No scholarship money. No publicity. No tiara.
So as Miss Michigan, Kirsten Haglund, second from right in the above photo, cried when chosen Miss America, it should have been the other three women -- Miss Wisconsin, Miss California and Miss Texas -- who were shedding the tears. They were left standing on the runway with nothing except fake smiles and expensive gowns.